Robot Grippers

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
The end-effectorM is one of the main components of an industrial robot. It is the device that allows the FANUC M-20ia and other articulated robots to directly interact with workpieces. There are many different types of end-effectors for industrial robots. These range from application specific tooling to the more generalized grippers.

What is a Robot Gripper?

A gripper is a type of end-effector that is integrated with industrial robots. Grippers are the most common type of EOAT for robots because they can be used for a variety of applications as opposed to application specific tooling such as welding torches. Grippers provide robots with the ability to handle, move, pick up, and release workpieces. There are many different gripper designs. These range from ones that resemble hands to those with just a few fingers. There are also grippers with large claws/jaws, those with suction cups, and some even featuring a soft ball.

How are Grippers Powered?

Robot grippers can be powered in three ways, through hydraulic, electric, or pneumatic power sources. Sometimes grippers may even be classified by their power source as opposed to their design. Hydraulic powered grippers are the least common as they use an oil pump for power. However, they provide the most grip strength. Integrating the ABB 6640 with a hydraulic gripper provides incredible strength for automating heavy duty lifting.

Electric powered grippers use electronic motors as their power source. They are clean and ideal for applications requiring light to medium strength. Pneumatic grippers utilize compressed air as their power source. These are the most common due to their low cost and ease of integration.

What are the Robot Gripper Types?

There are several different types of robotic grippers. The more common ones include:

  • • Finger Style - These usually feature two to three fingers and are best for small parts handling.

  • • Multi-Finger - Also known as adaptive grippers, these are best for handling small, irregular shaped items.

  • • Bag Grippers - These feature two jaws with several prongs and are used for moving larger objects.

  • • Vacuum Grippers - These feature a suction cup and use air pressure to grasp items.

  • • Magnetic Grippers - These feature a magnetized surface for grabbing metal workpieces.

What Applications Require Grippers?

Grippers are integrated with robots when automating material handling applications. These include robotic palletizing, part transfer, automated assembly, pick and place, packaging, and machine tending.

How to Select a Gripper?

The type of gripper you integrate with your industrial robot will depend upon the type of application your are automating, the robot payload, and the workpieces involved. Applications such as palletizing that involve heavy lifting will require a strong gripper, usually a bag gripper. While more delicate applications like small parts assembly will likely suffice with a two or three finger gripper.

The payload of your robot is also a factor in gripper selection. The payload of a robot is the maximum capacity it can handle which includes the weight of the workpieces and end-effector. The Yaskawa Motoman HP20D has a payload of 20 kg, so the weight of the gripper and workpieces it will be handling cannot exceed 20 kg.

The type of workpieces the gripper will be interacting with will also affect your selection. Sensitive items will require a soft finger or vacuum gripper to prevent damage. More durable objects can be handled by a bag or magnetic gripper.

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